Wednesday, October 23, 2019 | ePaper
Roots of Violence
In context with today's escalating gun violence
Let's talk about death. It's not a popular topic, yet it is one that every single living creature has in common with each other. We are all going to die. The question we rarely ask is how we see ourselves leaving the world. Many struggle and fight against death, trying to live as long as possible while attacking aging's effects on the body as determinedly as scraping barnacles off a boat. While this opening can go in a myriad of directions and spark a number of valuable conversations (there is great merit to confronting the hidden fear of death), the topic I'm going to delve into involves whether you imagine your final heartbeat stemming from the bullet of a gun. I don't know if the 9,168 U.S. citizens that have died this year from a bullet suspected this cause for their deaths.
The recent mass shootings in Ohio, Texas and Illinois that elicited headlines around the world are only a fraction of the 34,701 people who were injured from gun violence in the 8 months of this year.
Let's take a moment to put this number into perspective. Fear of flying is a common phenomenon where people are often reassured that it's safer to fly than driving a car. Statistics confirm this. In 2018, 500 people were killed in major passenger airline crashes while 2017 boasted the safest year in aviation with 0 deaths among major passenger airlines. In contrast, annual fatal car crashes in the U.S. hover around 35,000 to 40,000 deaths per year - the same number of people that have been injured from gun violence the first eight months of this year. The average number of injuries from gun violence in the last two years of 2018 and 2017 was around 60,000 people. Therefore, these numbers suggest that one is more likely to be injured from gun violence than dying in a car crash or an airline crash. (I wouldn't try to reassure an anxious airline passenger of this alarming statistic.)
Sadly, it seems that anger and hot-headed debates arise from shooting massacres as people delve into the option of enforcing gun control as a solution and speculating about the state of mind of the person who used the deadly weapon.
While the American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association have issued statements against blaming mental illness for gun violence, citing that racism and hatred are not mental illness (and other research reveals playing video games does not lead to violence)-the spectrum of social scientists repeatedly uncovers and asserts that a multitude of variables influence the escalating violence we are witnessing.
No behavior is motivated by one single cause.
Even our very own concepts, opinions, likes, and dislikes are based on a complex of web of influences and experiences that escape our immediate attention.
I dearly wish I could offer a simple solution-and that I could genuinely create a significant impact that could lead to peace, safety, happiness, and love for ALL. Wouldn't that be nice? Instead, I will cull through history and offer this moving reminder on the roots of violence. The following seven "causes" were cited in 1925 (seven years after the First World War). The words were exhorted in Westminster Abbey by Frederick Lewis Donaldson and published by the great peacemaker, Mahatma Gandhi (whose birthday on October 2 is celebrated as the International Day of Nonviolence).
Please take a moment to contemplate these wise words-and perhaps you can do what you can to live by-and role model-these valuable principles.
(Kimberly Key is past division president of the American Counseling Association and author of Ten Keys to Staying Empowered in a Power Struggle).